TED talks for seniors

January 6, 2019

Listening to TED talks is enjoyable to me. TED Conferences LLC (Technology, Entertainment, Design) is a media organization that posts talks online for free under the slogan “Ideas worth spreading.”

They have TED talks written specifically for seniors, and some of them might interest you.

One TED talk I like is from Bob Stein: A rite of passage for late in life. He talks about his disappointment in his own bar mitzvah and how he is determined to grant his two children their rite of passage when they reach 13. He asked them to choose one place they wanted to go anywhere in the world that had meaning.

His son chose the Galapagos Islands for his love of sea turtles, while his daughter chose to spend two weeks at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. Stein says his daughter  learned she was powerful and brave. He felt the experiences were transformative for both the child and the parent.

He suggests that we need the same type of ritual as seniors. Our rite of passage might stem from sharing some of our memorabilia with those we love. So he began unearthing the boxes he had collected over a lifetime.

The Swedish call this “death cleaning,” he explains. Cleaning out your closets before you die so your kids don’t have to do it later.

Stein says that it isn’t the objects that have meaning, but the stories that go with the objects that give meaning to life. His T-shirt from the 1980s spurred a discussion with his son about the Black Liberation Movement of the 1960s. The T-shirt gave them common ground to talk about the same issues facing the world today. His son asked if he could have it.

“Giving away my stuff now and sharing it with family and friends seems like a perfect way to enter a new stage of life. I’m not an old guy on the way out, but I am someone who has a role to play going forward,” he said.

My son asked me just yesterday about some of the rocks which I inherited from my husband’s mother, Edna, an avid collector. He said his children want to know more about them and asked if I would be willing to give some away for their budding collections.

Of course I said yes. It will be like opening a door of learning for my grandchildren. It will be transformative for me because I want to keep both Dot and Edna’s spirits alive and share their passion for the earth.

Aunt Dot picked up a rock whenever she went for a daily walk. Later in life, after Edna spent more time with her in Arizona, her collection grew to include petrified wood, colorful geodes, turquoise, mica and Bisbee ice.

Thinking about a 5-year-old on my lap surfing the internet to identify the names of these rocks makes me feel like I am going forward too.

More than 2,600 TED Talks are freely available online; just type in a subject which interests you.

Wishing everyone a happy and meaningful 2019.